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Train operator describes crash, praises UHP trooper for saving driver’s life

(Photo: Paul Nelson)

DAVIS COUNTY – He’s being called the unsung hero who helped save a man whose car was stuck on train tracks just seconds before a Frontrunner train crashed into it.  The train operator believes divine intervention played a big part.

Frontrunner operator Riley Nelson says they’re trained to be ready for crashes.  Drivers have close calls every single day.

Nelson says, “On my first day of training, I was told, ‘Welcome to Frontrunner.  You’re going to hit someone.”

While Nelson was going north through Davis County, he saw a light ahead, but he wasn’t sure what it was.  There are times when lights from nearby roads reflect onto their windshield.

“Originally, I was two and a half miles out and it wasn’t until I was less than a mile away before I realized there was actually a car on the tracks,” he says.

Once he realized what it was, Nelson slammed on the emergency brake.  Officials from UTA say that was able to slow the train from 80 miles an hour to just 30 when the impact happened.

“If I had taken a few more seconds, I would be going that much faster by the time I got to the car.  That most likely would have taken up the time Trooper Correa needed to get the guy out of the car.”

He can vividly remember watching UHP Trooper Ruben Correa pull the driver out with just a second to spare.

He says, “Just before they went below my field of view on the windshield, I saw the trooper just wrap his arms around the guy and pull back with all he could.”

Nelson firmly believes divine intervention helped everyone work together to save the driver’s life.  He says not only was he able to realize what was happening in time, but, he was late for work Wednesday morning.  He says if he would have been on time, Correa may not have been in a position to help.

“I don’t believe that people calling in sick and my being late to the station was a coincidence.  I don’t believe in coincidences,” he adds.

Even though Nelson’s quick thinking helped save the driver, he believes Correa deserves all the credit for the rescue.

“He’s the true hero of this whole thing.  He’s the one that put his life on the line,” Nelson says.